Monday, October 08, 2007
For the first time, The Foos are failing to break new ground.
The verbosely titled umpteenth Foo Fighters album is.. well. It’s not all that. For the first time, it feels, to me at least, that the Foos are starting to tread water. They’re not longer evolving, but artistically repeating themselves.
Opening with lead off single “The Pretender” (think ‘Stairway To Heaven’ meets ‘The Best Of You’), the album shows no signs of any artistic progression. It's made up of good solid songs and hard rockin' riffs topped off with Grohl's nice guy persona : there's none of the usual attitude and sneer from this kind of rock, instead the Foos recall a Nostalgia-For-An-Age-That-Never-Existed, where rock was cool and clever and dumb and uncool all at once, sometime in a mystical 1977. In some respects, the album is a continuation of 2005's weighty "In Your Honour", but half the size, and spotwelded together as a single entity.
"Erase/replace" could have come from ANY Foo Fighters record, and that's not a good thing. Because like any great artsits, they should progress, evolve, refine, move on, start again, try new things, create a unique sound with each release, and this album fails in that respect, because good as I is, we've heard it all before. Grohl and the rest of his band are undoubtedly a tight, efficient killer outfit but this time around there's something about the album that fails to grab, fails to compel. Which is a shame. The songs themselves aren't lacking, but the overall effect is less than the sum of the parts.
“Stranger Things Have Happened” is oddly reminiscent of Saddam Husseins “I Can Change” from the South Park Movie. There’s a higgedy-piggedy instrumental strumming piece in the middle of the record (which is, at best, a directionless indulgence that circumsizes the mood of the moment), and the second half - or side two, if you're old fashioned - falls into a mellow, relaxed vibe that singularly fails to stand out, exposing the occasionally slight side of Grohl's writing. It's not that the album is bad - not by any stretch of any imagination, it's just that it just isn't good enough and falls short of the previous high standards set by the band. Let's hope that this is only a temporary blip in their otherwise exceptional career.